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Condoleezza Rice speaks at Johnson C. Smith University, Charlotte, NC. Report, Video, Photos

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  • Peter Dow
    5-2-2010 Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice walks into the stadium before addressing Johnson C. Smith University s Class of 2010 spring graduation
    Message 1 of 1 , May 3, 2010
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      5-2-2010 Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice walks into the stadium before addressing Johnson C. Smith University's Class of 2010 spring graduation as commencement speaker. The sound of people cheering her name could be heard ringing through the stadium as she passed by the bleachers. Rice's father was a JCSU alum and she remembers visiting the campus as a little girl, making it a very special place to her. LAURA-CHASE MCGEHEE - lcmcgehee@...

      Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice proceeds into the stadium as the commencement speaker for Johnson C. Smith University's Class of 2010 spring graduation. LAURA-CHASE MCGEHEE - lcmcgehee@...

      5-2-2010 Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice waves to spectators at Johnson C. Smith University's Class of 2010 spring graduation. Rice, the daughter of a JCSU alum, spoke at the event as commencement speaker. LAURA-CHASE MCGEHEE - lcmcgehee@...

       
      52-2010 Johnson C. Smith University President Ron Carter presents former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with the school's honorary doctor of laws degree at Sunday's ceremony. LAURA-CHASE MCGEHEE - lcmcgehee@...



      5-2-2010 Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks Sunday at Johnson C. Smith University's class of 2010 spring graduation. LAURA-CHASE MCGEHEE - lcmcgehee@...



      5-2-2010 A few cheers from the crowd could be heard after former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced that her father was a JCSU alum and "for those who care, he was an Alpha." LAURA-CHASE MCGEHEE - lcmcgehee@...


      5-2-2010 Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks Sunday at Johnson C. Smith University's class of 2010 spring graduation. LAURA-CHASE MCGEHEE - lcmcgehee@...



      Rice urges JCSU grads to challenge assumptions

      Now teaching at Stanford, she returned to speak at her father’s alma mater.

      By David Perlmutt
      dperlmutt@...
      Posted: Monday, May. 03, 2010
       

      At her father's alma mater Sunday, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stood before Johnson C. Smith University's latest graduates as an example of what they can strive to be and issued their responsibilities as "educated people."

      Rice, the country's 66th secretary of state, told the 221 graduates to keep searching for their passion: "I don't mean any old thing that interests you, or something you could or might do," she said. "But that one unique calling that you can't do without."

       

      She urged them to commit to reason when trying to understanding important issues; to use the skills they learned at JCSU to think, ask questions and examine assumptions.

       

      "This experience will sustain you for the rest of your life," said Rice, who has returned to teaching at Stanford University, where she was once provost before becoming national security adviser for President George W. Bush, then secretary of state. She was the country's first black woman to hold that position.



      "No one should assume that a life of reason is easy," she said. "To the contrary, it takes a great deal of courage and honesty - for the only way you're going to grow intellectually is by examining your opinions."
       
      She told the graduates to reject "false pride," and to not take their new degrees for granted. She said there are plenty of people as intelligent and deserving of the education they were given, but "for whatever reason - maybe a broken home, poverty or just bad luck - these people did not enjoy the opportunity that you have had at Johnson C. Smith."
       
      She told them to be optimists and continue the work to "advance progress."
      Rice, 55, grew up in segregated Birmingham, Ala., at a time when African-Americans found it difficult to aspire. "Differences have been used to divide and dehumanize," she said.
       
      She'd wanted to be a concert pianist, but in college at the University of Denver, she found she didn't have what it takes to "make it to Carnegie Hall."
      Instead, she said her passion became all things Russian - finding it in a international politics class taught by the father of Madeleine Albright, the country's 64th secretary of state.
       
      Years later, escorting Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to California with President George H.W. Bush, she was glad she found that passion.
       
      "Your passion may be hard to spot," she told the graduates. "But keep an open mind and keep searching."
       
      Rice knows JCSU
       
      JCSU President Ron Carter had little trouble persuading Rice to address the school's 138th commencement.
       
      She knows the west Charlotte school well.
       
      Her father, the late Rev. John Wesley Rice, graduated from there with a history degree in 1946 and a doctor of divinity two years later. He became a Presbyterian minister and football coach.
       
      As age 11, she visited the campus when her father attended a meeting of Presbyterian ministers. Bored, her mother let her explore.
       
      Rice returned in 2004 to give the convocation speech.
       
      Sunday, she told the graduates: "Johnson C. Smith University has made a lot of progress, but I think it's kept the same heart and soul."
       
      Under a warm, cloud-draped sky, the procession was led into the school's football stadium by African drummers and stilt dancers.
       
      Before Rice spoke, President Ron Carter presented her with the school's honorary doctor of laws degree. Leonard Haynes, an educator who headed up a White House initiative on historically black universities and colleges from 2007 to 2009, was given a doctor of humane letters degree.
       
      'Prove them wrong!'
       
      Jason Stuckey, a JCSU tennis player, was the valedictorian. Nikki Boston, another Smith athlete, was salutatorian.
       
      Stuckey said some graduates might hear that a JCSU degree isn't good enough. He urged his classmates to: "Prove them wrong!"
       
      Rice agreed, invoking the lessons of her ancestors.
       
      "Because of what all my ancestors endured, including poverty and segregation, they understood that education was a privilege," she said, "But that privilege brings obligation... It is your responsibility as educated people to reject prejudices and help close the gap of injustices and opportunities that still divide our nation and our world."




       
       


      Condoleezza Rice speaks to grads at Johnson C. Smith

      By: Aundrea Cline-Thomas

       
       
      (The linked to web-page contains a 1 minute 38 seconds News 14 Carolina report)
       
      CHARLOTTE – Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice addressed graduates at Johnson C. Smith University Sunday.
       
      In 2005, she became the first black woman to serve in the office under President George W. Bush. Sunday, she shared her journey from then-segregated Birmingham, Ala., to the international spotlight.
       
      "Knowing that in that crowd today, will be people who will do what I've done, what President Obama has done and maybe even more is the excitement of today," Rice said during a press conference after her speech.
       
      It's all possible, Rice said, because of the education these graduates have received. She told them that with that privilege comes great responsibility to follow their passions, be humble and serve others.
       
      "You have to take the next opportunity in front of you, enjoy it, do you your very best and be open to the twist and turns life will take," Rice said.
       
      Rice's message resonated with parents.
       
      "He needs to know something about the past history," parent Maxwell Marray said. "What he got today, I think will help him."
       
      Rice said she's had a connection to Johnson C. Smith ever since she was a child; her father graduated in 1946, then returned for seminary.
       
      "I remember visiting here as a little girl," Rice said. "There are fond memories of me being here with my parents."
       
      Rice said the lessons they taught her are worth passing on to future generations.
       
      "In the 21st century, coming from humble circumstances and doing great things, the bridge between them is education," Rice said.
       
      Rice for President Yahoo Group
       
      "Condoleezza Rice for President in 2012. Join this group of supporters from everywhere on the world wide web."
       

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